Kutawikucuu Riisaaru (Pawnee for “Hawk Chief”)

** This is a product of my grad poetry class – writing about my father is always a bit complicated, but I suppose that is why he keeps coming up. The title is written in Pawnee – our language.

I was thinking of you today,

watching the sky

and admiring the slate blue clouds.

I saw a broad-winged shadow

and thought of your name.

Not the one on your tombstone –

the one that was branded on your soul,

the name that came from your blood.

You told me once – it meant Hawk Chief.

Bird of prey. Protector. Hunter.

You did both, I think.

But isn’t that what hawks do?

And now, in the slate blue clouds –

I think I see you.

Life is a Dirty Kitchen Sink

Several years ago I read an article on house cleaning in which the author offered a proven method to getting into the “cleaning spirit”: start with the kitchen sink. The author reasoned that the sink was ground zero for cleaning an entire house; clean the sink, then move on to counters, then the stove, then the floor, and then the rest of the house.

The article was a bit quirky and fun to read, but I did not put much thought into it until I came to the point where I could not ignore the spatters, stains, and dusty bunnies any longer. At the time, I lived in a two-story house with too many rooms to figure out where to begin. I used to begin with my bedroom, but that almost always led to me re-arranging my closet and wasting most of the day without really doing anything. So on that day, I decided to try the article’s advice.

Before I could clean the sink I had to empty the pile of dirty dishes into the dish washer. After that, I scrubbed the sink until it was shiny and clean. I was (and still am) amazed at the instant feeling of accomplishment I felt over cleaning a sink. From there I moved on to the counters and the stove top, cleaning and scrubbing every inch of surface. I wiped down the oven and the fridge, and then swept the floor.

By early evening, I had cleaned most of the house AND cleaned more thoroughly than usual. The kitchen sink was the catalyst that motivated me to be productive. My task was not overwhelming because I began with something small and simple. That initial wave of accomplishment was my motivation to keep going. To this day, I still begin cleaning with the kitchen sink.

Humans are like dirty houses – we have many rooms and levels that make up who we are. Too often, we fail when we try to clean up our houses because we seek the whole picture and get overwhelmed at trying to do everything at one time. Adopt a “kitchen sink” mentality – start with small goals and let the motivation carry you along. Instead of feeling hopeless of the 100lbs you need to lose, set a goal to shed 5 lbs instead. Then set a new goal, and keep going until you get to your ideal weight.

Staring at two + more years of college was disheartening, but now I just focus on one semester at a time. Eventually I will get there. My mother often reminds me the correlation between overcoming a mountainous task and eating an elephant – one bite at a time. So grab a sponge or a spoon an get to it. Eventually you will get there.


I take you with me –
at my side,
on my heart,
in my blood.
You are as wild as they come –
your mane flies like hawks
in the wind.
You are also gentle –
soft and tender in your words,
smooth as glass
when you dance.
Same spirit we have –
stars run in our veins
and shine out
like blue velvet.
We are wild
as horses,
and gentle as lambs.
But not always.
And yet, always.

The Vomit Kind of Faith

“Being raised with manners” is a statement that applies to the majority of people in America. We learned during childhood how to say “please” and “thank you,” and “yes/no ma’am/sir.” We learned that it is rude to belch in front of people, and even more horrifying to pass gas around anyone except our immediate family. Any topic that has anything to do with negative bodily functions is still fairly taboo in decent conversation (especially at the dinner table). So what does something as gross and terrible as throwing up have to do with faith? A lot more than you may realize.

I hate throwing up. I doubt there is anyone alive who particularly enjoys it, but I really don’t like it. I can count on one hand the number of times that I have tossed my cookies. I have managed to maintain this (mostly sadly) impressive record because I will do almost anything to avoid having to puke. I will chug a gallon of Pepto if I think it will help in any way.

I don’t remember what led to me feeling ill on that particular night, but my upset stomach quickly escalated to an awful upset of my record. I asked my husband to bring me a large bowl (he gave me a small waste basket) because I didn’t want to move and cause a sickly chain reaction. I immediately began quoting healing scriptures and praying for healing. I demanded my body be healed because I refused to accept the alternative. I was absolutely unwilling to throw up, and so my mind was solely focused on the manifestation of my healing.

I know what you might be thinking—if my stomach was upset because of something bad, then vomiting would lead to feeling better. And you might be correct, but I refused to consider anything related to up-chucking. I sat in my chair and concentrated on the Word. I spoke peace to my body and just repeated different healing scriptures over and over.

I don’t know how long I sat there, but eventually I felt the muscles in my mouth relax. The tension in my body left and I could feel my stomach calm down. I continued speaking the Word over my body for a little longer until I knew it was okay to stand up. I went to bed shortly after and slept through the night without any other problems. I praised God for my healing, grateful that I did not have to endure all of the terrible-ness of throwing up.

The next day, the Holy Spirit came to me and asked me why I received such quick healing the previous night. I was so determined not to accept the situation presented to me that I consider only one option – divine healing through Jesus. “So why,” He asked, “don’t you act the way with anything else?” Vomiting I would not accept, but what about all the other attacks from the devil? He asked why I did not focus my faith with the other prayers and petitions in the same manner.

Romans 4:20 says that Abraham didn’t waver in his faith because he was fully convinced that God would do what He had promised. Fully convinced—seeing no other outcome but the one that God promised him. That is the kind of faith that God wants us to operate in every day. He wants us to focus solely on His promises, so much that we will only accept His truth over whatever trial or tribulation the devil may try to bring against us. If we do this, we will have victory every time.